National Highways unveils speed reduction and upgrade work for A38 Saltash Tunnel


13 Sep 2023

National Highways will be embarking on a phased programme of safety, refurbishment and modernisation work in and around the Saltash Tunnel this month.

National Highways unveils speed reduction and upgrade work for A38 Saltash Tunnel

The 35-year-old A38 tunnel is set for a £20 million ‘generational’ refurbishment, involving an upgrade of the Tunnel & Traffic Control System, electrical distribution, lighting, fans and electronic signage, with the bulk of the work taking place next year.

In the meantime, site preparation work, including the removal of old cabling, will take place ahead of and alongside a speed reduction scheme to improve safety on roads leading to and around the tunnel.

As part of its commitment to safety and air quality, National Highways will be reducing the speed limit on the A38 between the Saltash Tunnel and Carkeel roundabout.

The speed restriction is being lowered from 70mph to 50mph, with average speed cameras being installed to enforce the 30mph limit through the tunnel and on the B3271 and North Road diversion routes.

Julian Mitchell, National Highways’ Tunnel Manager, said: “The tunnel is safe but it is essential that we replace our systems which have been operating for more than 20 years.

“We’re currently in the detailed design and construction planning stages, and in the meantime, while the speed reduction scheme takes place, we’ll be preparing the site by stripping out the outdated and redundant equipment and cleaning and preparing cable routes for the kilometres of cabling that will need to be installed.

“There’s been a considerable amount of planning over several years to identify efficiencies and reduce the number of future maintenance closures and once we have a timeframe for next year’s upgrade work, we’ll communicate that in advance and will hold stakeholder and public open days to provide further information.

“The speed reduction measures are much needed and we see the scheme as part of the overall programme.

“This section of the A38 sees a number of minor collisions as motorists try to reduce speed quickly on the approach to the tunnel and the Carkeel roundabout, and we are aware of vehicles exceeding the speed limit along the B3271 North Road diversion route when we close the tunnel.”

To enable the modernisation prep work the tunnel will be closed on weeknights, from 8pm to 6am, between Monday, 18 September and 7 October, with traffic diverted via the B3271 and North Road.

For the speed reduction scheme, the Saltash tunnel and A38 to the Carkeel roundabout will be closed overnight, on weeknights only, between 2 October and 24 October.

The overnight closures will be in place from 8pm to 6am, and from 25 October to 7 November two-way traffic signals will be in place overnight on the B3271 and North Road.

The final phase of work will see weeknight overnight closures of the tunnel and the A38 up to Carkeel roundabout in place between 8 November and 20 December, with two-way traffic signals continuing along the B3271 and North Road, overnight only.

Mr Mitchell added: “We appreciate that the schemes will impact on road users and Saltash residents, but we’re keeping the closures to an absolute minimum and we thank all drivers and residents in advance for their co-operation and patience while we carry out this essential safety work.

“Being a bi-directional tube with three lanes and tidal flow, and connecting to the private Tamar Toll Bridge, the tunnel is unique, and it’s difficult to work safely within the structure without closing it overnight. We apologise in advance for any inconvenience and advise people to plan ahead and allow a little extra time for their overnight journeys.”

During the work, drivers can obtain up-to-the-minute travel information on local radio, the @HighwaysSWEST Twitter feed, by phoning the National Highways Information Line on 0300 123 5000 or by accessing the Traffic England website